Reports in New Zealand yesterday suggested that the South African Rugby Union (Saru) has decided to pull the Springboks out of this year’s Rugby Championship.
Saru was given an extra two days on Wednesday to iron out issues that might prevent the defending champion Boks from playing in the southern hemisphere competition, with D-day being set for today.
But a report on NZ Herald's website reads: “South Africa has withdrawn from the Rugby Championship to cut the number of tournament matches in half… which will reduce the competition from a 12 to six-Test event and necessitate the need for bye weekends.”
The report adds: “South Africa’s decision to withdraw entirely is expected to be attributed to player welfare concerns and uncertainty surrounding government travel regulations amid the global Covid-19 pandemic…”
Saru then sent out a statement on the matter, saying: “An SA Rugby spokesperson said that speculation in the media that the Springboks were to be withdrawn from the Castle Lager Rugby Championship had been noted.
“However, it would make no comment on the reports until Sanzaar had updated all stakeholders through official channels, which was expect to be on Friday, 16 October.”
With competitive rugby in South Africa only returning last weekend, the biggest fear was that new coach Jacques Nienaber’s world champs would be undercooked for the tournament Down Under.
Scheduled to play their first match against Argentina on November 7, an official announcement on the Springboks’ participation in the tournament is expected to be made by governing body Sanzaar today.